Microsoft acquires Parature

Jan 7, 2014   //   by: Pedro Mac Dowell Innecco   //   Dynamics CRM/365  //  Comments Off on Microsoft acquires Parature

If there is one module of Microsoft Dynamics CRM that always leave me with the bitter taste of I wish I could, is the service module.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I reckon the service module provides good value, and I have deployed Dynamics CRM solution around this module in past which clients were happy with; but Dynamics CRM isn’t a full fledged service management system such like Remedy or Peregrine. The problem is that it doesn’t have much space for growth, particularly for organisations willing to provide service level agreements (SLAs) slightly more complicated than the default, over-simplistic examples.

The good news is that Microsoft announced today the acquisition of Parature; a customer self-service company based in Virginia, USA. Parature provides a bunch of products and services around service and support including a customer self-service platform, multi-channel customer service and social customer service.

I think it is fair to speculate that Microsoft is willing to provide their Dynamics CRM customer base with the ability to easily create their own support portals. The question at hand is whether this will be an offering only for Office 365 customers or if customers with on-premises Dynamics CRM should also expect to enjoy the benefits of this acquisition.

However as a Dynamics CRM consultant, what I am really looking forward to is the expected enhancements in the service module.

I mentioned above that service module has some limitations. The main issue for me lies around the consideration of elapsed time for the resolution of a case considering case status, the service level agreement and business hours. Consider the following example of ACME (a company based in the UK) that has a service level agreement with Contoso (a company based in the USA).

The IT manager of ACME calls Contoso technical support on the 3rd of July at 16:25 and logs an incident. A support incident is created and set with the status of Open. Based on their SLA, Contoso has 24 hours hours — not days) to resolve the incident. Moreover, ACME’s SLA does not include support for Contoso’s outside business hours. In other words, it does not include support after 17:30 and it does not include public holidays; and the next day is 4th of July (USA’s independence day).

The SLA clock should stop ticking as soon as the local time at Contoso’s technical support office reaches 17:30, and it should not start again until 09:00 hours on the 5th of July — since 4th of July is a holiday. Dynamics CRM does not include out of the box support to handle such scenarios.

The good news is that I spoke with a Parature pre-sales consultant while I was writing this post, and he told me that the above scenario is supported by their product. Yay!

Microsoft’s acquisition of Parature seems to be a great addition to Microsoft Dynamics. I just hope its imminent absorption by Dynamics CRM is smooth and that it includes the service management features that Dynamics CRM desperately lacks.

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